Burgeoning youth creates opportunities and challenges

Many businesses and organizations have been so focused on catering to the aging Baby Boomers and the grey markets of Europe and China that they almost missed one of the biggest opportunities of this century: the boom of youngsters in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is seeing an unprecedented increase in its youth numbers and fertility has started to fall. By 2035, they will have more people joining the labour force than the rest of the world combined.

The region is poised to benefit from this phenomenon (just like East Asia in the 1950’s and 60’s), as a larger workforce relative to dependents should boost economic growth, but mature economies are also scrambling for their slice of the pie.

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa started too late to prepare for this unique event, but desperate developed nations have spotted the gap. They are inundating the continent looking for solutions to their own problems – societal challenges and oversaturated markets.

Japan is actively trying to find wives for its large, anti-sex male population, hoping that the allure of ‘foreign’ females will help. Chinese manufacturers cannot keep up with the supply of 3D food printers and Finnish investors don’t know what to do with all their profit, as they managed to Africanize and outsource their widely successful education system.

As for Africa, they are all too thankful for the ‘help’ as the sheer size of the demographic numbers would paralyze them, if they had to cater to everyone’s needs alone. For now it’s a win-win scenario, but the demographic dividend could become a population penalty in the face of rampant automation and joblessness.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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